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Quick Links: Three Must-See’s for Pop Culture and Visual Literacy

If you’re not familiar with Pascal Witaszek’s poster art for imaginary movies, be prepared to get blown away. After the aesthetic high wears off, think about all the myriad literacies involved in designing images like the above—for your convenience, some are listed below. Then think about having students design their own movie posters based upon their favorite books, comics, historical figures, and so on.

  • Subject matter knowledge: Witaszek chooses to depict biopics as well as a wide range of genres
  • Creative “writing”: even if these movies exist only in his head, he’s clearly thought about the tones, themes, story elements, etc.
  • Iconography: he must sum up that made-up story with a key image that conveys the essence of the film
  • Design: the finished work must meet the formal requirements of a movie poster—dimensions, tagline, logo, production credits
  • Film knowledge: check out all the casting and personnel decisions reflected here… and how much sense they make

A forebear of Catwoman, in case you couldn't tell...

Via Forever Geek comes this gallery of superhero ancestors. Yep, that’s right, we like to think that superheroes acquired their powers, but what if they came from a long line of folks… who also liked to pose for the formal portrait now and then? The work of the Italian “Marvellini Brothers,” these faux historical images suggest a range of spinoff projects students could fashion from pop culture or literary characters—yearbook pages, mug shots, photo booth snapshots, etc. And of course accompanying text could be written to accompany such works of art.

Minimalism in pop culture alt-design has been quite the rage for the past year or two, it seems. Usually the subjects are things like old Hitchcock movies, but back in late February Brain Pickings posted these posters for children’s books by Christian Jackson. I think the applications in terms of visual literacy and transliteracy are pretty self-evident, aren’t they? If you get young readers to try their hand at this—and how young would be too young, really, when it comes to minimalism?—they then must determine the “main idea” of the text they want to express. That can be a narrative or a thematic element, but either way it opens things up a whole lot more than the standard directive of “draw a picture that illustrates what you’ve read.”

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